Crossroads

I haven’t written in a while, and I feel like I’m in a state of avoidance and denial. Writing forces me to think about myself and that’s something I’ve been avoiding, keeping myself distracted- I’m stuck between wanting to move forward with my life, wanting to improve myself and wanting to return to a more self-destructive but yet comforting path.

I’ve come across posts that mention INFPs especially as people who often have a melancholic temperament and are attracted to sad things. They are the people who will find beauty in sadness, and will self-indulge in dark things. The stereotype of the sad artist who ends up committing suicide. While I don’t agree with this because it’s such an overgeneralisation, I see why it these can be stereotypes.

“William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet wasn’t just the greatest love story of all time. It was the love story because it was written by an INFP, about two INFPs, for INFPs.”

As an idealist and romantic, I can find the beauty even in darkness and romanticize sadness. Rationally, I don’t think sadness or mental illness is beautiful at all and it really sucks. Rationally, I know that doing this will not help me to be happy be be who I want to be. But I’m not a rational person by nature- I’m an INFP with 93% Feeling, for god’s sake. (my personality type is not an excuse to make bad decisions, but it makes a lot of sense)

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I can all too easily let any sensibility go and indulge in my feelings, creating a world of my own and turn something like sadness into a beautiful tale. The kind of sadness beautiful poems about lost girls are written about, the kind of effy stonem, lana del ray sadness. It doesn’t help that this path is a familiar one, a comforting one.

For a long time I wasn’t
entirely sure I wanted to
put myself back together,
because letting go of the
sadness would mean I
had to redefine myself.
And sometimes, I still feel
like chasing the darkness,
because I don’t exactly
know who I am without
it. I realised I made a
home out of something I
should have never let in.

I try to find a middle ground but am I just fooling myself? When it comes to emotions and myself, I’m either at the extremes or nothing at all.  I’ve been in a very dark place, and I’ve come so far from that. I know that if I go back, I’ll lose the progress I have made in recovery and I feel guilty because I know better than that. They don’t tell you how hard it is when you’re no longer drowning, when you’re no longer tearing yourself apart at every chance, when you’re ‘okay’ because it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. They don’t tell you how hard it is to be stuck

too happy to be so sad, but too sad to be happy 

tumblr_m9ldi2gepa1qb7fuio1_250The rational part of me knows the things to do that will help me, the emotional part of me wants to indulge in all the negative thoughts/feelings that come so naturally, and the rest of me wants to run away and is in confusion because I can’t sort my life out. I feel lost between two worlds and it’s a tug-of-war. I’m sorry for the negativity, I didn’t want to let myself get to this state but it’s hard to fight what sometimes feels like a losing battle.

 

 

The negative sides of INFPs

I’ve come across a few posts talking about ‘unhealthy INFPs’ it led me to think about the negative sides of being an INFP and leading with an Fi (introverted feeling) cognitive function, and my past experiences.

Introverted feeling (Fi) is a decision-making function, it’s what I mainly use to navigate the world around me. It’s based on an intensive focus on myself, my feelings and values. I  observe the world around me, taking it in and filtering it through how I feel about it and how it fits into my value system, if something (or myself) is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. An introverted feeler is very self aware, and has a very strong value system that they will fiercely protect.

“Unlike Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which responds to the environment and others emotions, Introverted Feeling (Fi) deals with morals and what the person truly believes. Fi is more in depth and complex, and Fi users can easily identify their own feelings and emotions in a very accurate way. People with Introverted Feeling tend to be on a quest to figure out who they are and what they want out of life. Ideally, they would like everything they do to be in congruence with their personal believes, seeking harmony between their actions, thoughts, and personal values. An INFP spends a lot of time thinking about if X, Y, and Z are congruous with her vision about the way X, Y, and Z should be.  They want to live a life as true to themselves as possible”

Many articles talk about how Fi users are highly sensitive, compassionate and sincere. We’re some of the most empathetic people because we can easily put ourselves into the shoes of someone else. And that’s all true, but more often than not, it’s easier to see all the negative sides and outcomes of leading with Fi. Sometimes, I honestly dislike the Fi function so much.

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A few years back, someone called me selfish. At that time, it felt like I’d been cut and I didn’t even know why. I didn’t understand- how could I possibly be selfish when I cared so much about what other people thought and felt, how could I be selfish when my intentions were ‘good’? It’s only now, looking back after such a long time, that person was probably right. When you lead with Fi, it’s easy to become very self-absorbed. It was a time when I was very alone, when my feelings and thoughts were so extreme I really couldn’t think about anything other than myself and how I felt.

“Fi isn’t selfish, but Fi-users can be and often are because they get stuck in a continual feed of introversion and analyzing relations based on themselves, getting stuck in an fi-si loop, and that isn’t how healthy Fi is supposed to be used”

Its not uncommon for INFPs to look to the external world primarily for information that will support their ideas and values, and does not take in enough information about the external world to have a good sense of what’s going on. They see nothing but their own perspective, and deal with the world only so far as they need to in order to support their perspective. These individuals usually come across as selfish and unrealistic- I get so caught up in myself, so caught up in my own feelings and thoughts and so sure of my own beliefs that I never stopped to look or even consider the outside world. My feelings were my fact, my only basis for how I perceived the world, and now I realise just how much I lost touch with reality.

When one looks at life through the lens of a magnifying glass, everything looms larger but less is seen. She can lose a realistic sense of proportion about the situation and herself more and more. Without the help of Extraverted Intuition, she can’t see the possibilities that remain to her. Hope fades. Without the aid of Extraverted Thinking, she can’t find practical ways to deal with what troubles her and may overreact, making matters worse, or she might fail to act at all. Her faith in herself shrinks as a sense of powerlessness overwhelms her. Yet her discouragement is based on illusions born of her lost perspective and balance.

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“Unhealthy INFPs cling to their Introverted Feeling and usually refuse to communicate their needs and feelings to their friends. They don’t open up easily and there is a lot of denial, usually. They take constructive criticism and advice very personally and feel like they’re being attacked. Immature INFPs can be like hypersensitive, emotional children and get hurt by everything. They are melodramatic and overreact to anything that they perceive as hurtful.

A similar reflection of this pattern is also seen in their creative – the perfectionist, sensitive unhealthy INFP will refuse to even try to make anything because they feel like if it’s not perfect, it’s a reflection of the fact that they’re not good enough. So to protect themselves, they isolate themselves socially, refuse to participate in even creative activities they love and it all goes to shit unless someone can get through to them or they give themselves the push they need to come to grips with the situation. “

It scares me a lot, actually, how true this all is. Perfectionism, unhealthy idealism, a tendency to avoid conflict, denial, stubbornness, being oversensitive and easily offended, extreme mood swings, becoming cold and critical when stressed, isolation, a tendency for melancholy. It also scares me to know how easily I can fall into a rut of negativity, completely isolate myself, indulge in unhealthy feelings and behaviors and become so blinded by myself and my own emotions. That I can, without even knowing, become someone I don’t want to be. They say INFPs are more prone to depression and anxiety, and I don’t think it’s hard to see why.

When you’re so idealistic, you have this perfect picture in your head of what things are ‘meant to be’- what I am supposed to be like (perfect), what my life is supposed to be like, always seeing everyone and everything through rose-colored lens. I see the best in people and I see the beauty in all the little things. But reality is often too harsh, too difficult, too much to handle. When people continuously tell you ‘you’re too sensitive’, when nobody seems to validate your feelings, when you feel alone all the time- it’s easier to retreat into isolation, to lose yourself in your head, to believe only in what you want to. You lose a sense of reality, cling on to your Fi, letting your inner world and feelings become your only truth, shutting out the rest of the world. As naturally creative and artistic people, it’s not hard to indulge in sadness and try to find the beauty in it. Not to mention, the internet is filled with such people who romanticize suffering and mental illness. You lose yourself in the process and there’s really nothing beautiful about it.

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My therapist told me, ‘I think these are things that you’re always going to struggle with, but we can always work on learning to cope with them’

I believe that our development stems from a combination of nature and nurture, that who I am and why I am the way I am comes from not just MBTI and cognitive functions but also all the things that I have been through. Perhaps, if I had parents who understood how to raise an INFP child, if I had more internal stability, if I had a better self-esteem and a wider range of coping skills, I would be a healthier, more well-adjusted INFP.

But my past is what made me who I am, and I can’t change it even if I wanted to. I’m proud of myself for even being able to get to this point where I’m able to sit down and write ‘negative’ post about myself, and not let it define me because I know there are positives as well. (maybe i’ll write about that soon) If I were to write something like this in the past, I would have let all my feelings and inner critic overwhelm me. It would have turned into an examination and amplification of all my faults and ‘why I am a terrible person’ instead of simply trying to understand my unhealthy behaviors and weaknesses.

Sometimes I still want to run to wonderland, to dance with demons and fairies alike, to live in a fantasy world- reality is hard. Dealing with myself is hard. But I’m trying, I’m learning more about how my brain works and understanding myself, and how to grow as a person.

Thought Catalog // For a young INFP

Quotes from a Thought Catalog post I came across- just something that made my heart smile, a bit of hope and things I needed to hear.

“Oh, my stargazing dreamers. Heart on your sleeve, head in the clouds. Making beauty out of everything around you, seeing beauty in everything. I want to protect you. I wish you could know how much in this world will hurt you, without being afraid. You see good in everything, but you are deeply wounded when life flows and people leave, friendships drift, visions pass. Dig deeper in life, engage with more discernment and caution, but never, ever stop loving like you do.”

“It’s okay. It’s okay that you don’t fit in now, that you feel almost alien. Some day you’re going to run into somebody out of the blue and you’re going to find that understanding you’ve been searching for, and that longing to be known as much as you know another person will be satisfied – it may not even be a romantic relationship and believe me when I say that it is still a beautiful thing. Also, it’s okay to not settle in your relationships. Your heart wants what it wants and you know that it will be miserable if you just settle. Follow that heart and make it your compass and do not be ashamed of where it takes you, even if it scares the shit out of you, be proud of it because it’s one in a million and absolutely beautiful.”

show me how to be brave

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been struggling with a lot of things. Feelings much too intense and an almost painful sensitivity to everything within and around me. A constant loneliness I cannot place, a sense of melancholy, a tendency to fall into the extremes. The thoughts in my head that constantly move too quickly, and dive too deeply, colliding upon each other- they never made sense. A heightened attention to every detail, an unhealthy perfectionistic tendency. The need for art, for beautiful things and creative expression. To connect to the world in a way I cannot put into words. The longing for something more, for that spark of magic, for adventure.

It’s hard trying to survive in a world where dreams and sensitivity are seen as weaknesses, a world where nobody seems to understand or listen, a world that which feels like it simply wasn’t made for people like me.

In a bid to escape reality, to find the people who understand, to find the words I cannot put together, to learn how the world (and how my brain) works- I read. Words, poems, articles, blog posts, books, everything. I’ve always gotten lost in words, an avid reader and a writer. I write to make sense of the world around me, to unravel all the emotions I can never express in person, I write as an outlet, I write to reflect, I write to run away and get lost. When I write, I’m free to dream and free to feel and let my thoughts run wild.

It is a terrifying thing, the honesty and vulnerability that comes with baring your soul in words, to share something so intense and real and personal. (I’ve never been one to open up completely) My writing is not always beautiful, it’s often a patchwork of words and sentences and feelings I can’t find the words for. It’s hard forcing the perfectionist in me to accept that it’s never going to be perfect, I’m never going to be perfect. Much like life most of the time, it’s a mess. But it’s real. Raw and unfiltered.

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But maybe I’m at a point in my life where I can try to find a balance in my life, to piece stars into constellations, explore these depths authentically and without fear. To accept my feelings and own my stories as they are, messy and imperfect. To admit that I am scared of many, many things, that I need someone sometimes, that I have scars. To understand that I will always be a work in progress and map out the things that made me who I am and where I will go, where I want to go, who I want to be. And well, why not make something real and honest and beautiful in the process?

So I’m taking a plunge and putting myself out there. It’s scary, but you know what? I’m done being scared of vulnerability and being scared of the intensity in which I feel and think. I want to one day be able to say ‘This is who I am, this is how I feel, this is my story and I’m not ashamed. I’m not perfect and it’s okay. I’m not always a good person but I’m not a bad person, I’m just trying to live the best I can. I’ve seen the darkness, and I’ve been broken and alone and cynical, but I still believe in the goodness of my intentions, and the abundance of love I know is in my soul. This is who I am, and I’m not scared anymore, I’m not scared of what people might think, I’m not scared of people not validating my feelings because I validate myself.’

It’s going to be be one hell of a ride, god knows I have a long way to go, but I think it’s going to be a beautiful one. Who knows, maybe these thoughts can help someone out there feel less alone, just like how reading has made me feel like I’m not the only crazy one out there.